Austin Shannon, a research technician with Northern Arizona University’s Pathogen and Microbiome Institute, spent two weeks in Darwin, Australia, training staff members of Menzies School of Health Research how to use a machine that can aid in the diagnosis of melioidosis.

NAU and Menzies have a partnership spanning more than 13 years, and both schools use the same MAGPIX diagnostic equipment. Shannon is the primary technician running the assay at PMI, so he traveled to Darwin to ensure the new machine in the Menzies laboratory was producing similar results.

Melioidosis, caused by the bacterium B. pseudomallei, is an infectious, potentially lethal disease that can spread to humans and animals through contaminated soil and water. It can be found throughout northern Australia and Southeast Asia and can be a potential agent in bioterrorism.

“The diagnosis of melioidosis can sometimes be difficult; the test which is run on this machine can take blood samples and probe the immune system to see if it reacts to the bacteria with the hopes of reaching a faster and more accurate diagnosis,” Shannon said.